Sheila Kuehl was elected last night to replace termed out Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Kuehl is a friend of rail transit in Los Angeles, but she has sided with Beverly Hills constituents against the planned routing of the Wilshire subway.
Here is the issue: the Purple Line subway will travel down Wilshire, but in order to locate a stop in the middle of the high-density Century City office and retail complex (an area badly in need of heavy rail subway access), it will need to travel under Beverly Hills high school. High school representatives and their allies sued and lost to stop this route, alleging that the tunneling is unsafe and poses a potential danger to students.
I don’t buy their arguments. It’s certainly not supported by engineers, and it reminds me of the fake concern about methane that enabled Henry Waxman to stop the subway from traveling down to Fairfax back in the 1980s.
Kuehl will have a seat on Metro and could potentially get the agency to change the route to the less efficient, more dangerous location on Santa Monica Boulevard. Of course, at this point, the lawsuits and planning are done, so it may be a heavy lift for her and her Beverly Hills allies. And in an email to Streetsblog, she certainly doesn’t sound like she wants to jeopardize the project over this position:
Regarding the Purple Line, and my position on whether it should go forward, here is what I have consistently said:
1) I preferred the route down Santa Monica.
2) I never liked having the line go under the high school. […]
3) I have been told that some folks are seeking a “third way” and have offered to try, with others, to see if anything could be worked out.
4) I strongly support fully building the Purple Line and never said anything indicating I would take any action, ever, to stop the project. That’s pure fantasy on someone’s part.
Nor do I know who the anonymous “supporters” were on social media who were supposed to be speaking for me.
As the author of the bill that created the Expo Line Authority, I have consistently demonstrated, not only support, but leadership, on regional transit issues.
I will do nothing that might slow down, hold up, or otherwise get in the way of, the Purple Line. We need it.
While that statement is somewhat encouraging to read, I hope advocates for sensible and cost-effective subway routing ensure that Kuehl is not able to re-route the subway in order to appease phony and misguided fears about tunneling.